The Tories’ plans for a mass expansion of “academy” schools would mean the end of the state education system as we know it.
Teachers, parents, students, school governors and trade unionists need to organise immediately against them.
Education secretary Michael Gove last week wrote to all 20,000 state schools in England, offering them the chance to register their interest in turning into academies.
The 2,000 schools currently rated “outstanding” by school inspectors Ofsted may be fast-tracked into the scheme by September. Others will go though a speedy application process.
Gove expects academies to soon become “the norm”, in what some are calling the biggest reform of state education since Victorian times. Academies will be able to break from national pay rates and conditions for teachers and other staff.
For most that will mean cuts and harder working—but it also means academies can offer six figure salaries to bosses.
The effect of the plan will be to smash local authority control over education, set schools against one another, and widen the differences between schools.
Children will be left with a system stacked against both them and their teachers.
There will be further pressure on parents to get their children into “good” schools, thereby intensifying division and a return to elements of selection in education.
Peter Flack, assistant secretary of the NUT’s Leicester branch, told Socialist Worker, “The Tories’ policies will create a marketplace in education, with individual schools competing against each other for funding and pupils.
“Once you have that in place, the next step will be to allow school ‘manager companies’ or ‘sponsors’ to make a profit from running their schools.
“That is not in the interests of young people or education—but it appeals massively to the Tories’ friends in business.
“In Leicester the combined unions, together with community groups, are holding a Leicester Against Academies meeting on 24 June.”
Education campaigner Fiona Millar told Socialist Worker, “It’s very important to grasp the speed of the changes that Gove is proposing.
“The decision to opt out can be made by the head and governing body alone without any consultation with parents.
“Once the decision has been made, the secretary of state can order the immediate closure of the existing school, enabling it to re-open overnight as an academy.
“At present there are at least some obstacles which mean there must be consultation with parents. That’s all going.
“If local schools become academies they take funding with them. That means less for early years and special educational needs. We won’t just have a two-tier system, it will be a multi-tier system.”
With the bill just three weeks from a vote in parliament, campaigners need to act at a national and local level.
We need a mass campaign that says no privatisation, no cuts, defend state education.
Come together against academies
Jess Edwards teaches at a primary school in Lambeth, south London. It has been judged “outstanding”, so the head has already had a letter inviting the school to become an academy—although the head opposes the idea.
“Every single teacher came to our school NUT union meeting last Friday,” Jess told Socialist Worker.
“We wrote a resolution calling on the governors not to go for academy status. We also requested that a NUT member addresses them.
“People were very angry. One teacher said she would not work in an academy and that she had come into teaching to work in the comprehensive system.
“Others were very clear that we have to argue with teachers in other schools about why they should resist academies.”
The election of the Tories has had a big impact on staff in the school.
“Workers in the GMB and Unison are worried that they’ll lose their jobs,” said Jess.
“We’ve made plans to hold a cross-union meeting after half term to bring all workers together.
“The Tories’ plans would end state education—it’s a massive assault. I think we have to get this across to activists—don’t wait for other people to take a lead, call a local meeting and start organising.”
The Anti Academies Alliance has called a public meeting – No more Academies, No 'Free' schools, defend State Education – Thursday 24 June, 6.30pm, Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH
For more background and campaigning materials go to